Posted by: Kaite Stover
Most folks probably aren’t spending Father’s Day discussing what they’re reading. They might be outside having a catch, teeing up for the fifth hole, or fishing. But for those folks who do want to include a little father-son/daughter bonding over a book, any one of these may provide a jump start to the conversation.
William Landay is exploring the themes of loyalty and justice in his latest legal thriller, Defending Jacob. An assistant district attorney with a dark secret about his own father learns his 14-year-old son has been accused of murdering a classmate. Have readers talk about the degrees of loyalty and truth that exist in a family rocked by a tragedy.
Another good dad who feels he may have gone bad is Noah Hawley’s paternal figure in The Good Father. Time and distance have created a vast canyon between Paul Allen and the son of his failed first marriage, Daniel. But when Daniel is charged with shooting a Democratic presidential hopeful, Paul begins to question his own fitness as a father.
For a nostalgic look at the travails of fatherhood, try This is Goggle: Or The Education of a Father by Bentz Plagemann. This is an older novel, published in 1955, but the bewilderment that Father experiences as he tries to parent his wayward ten-year-old, Goggle is timeless. Newly discharged from the Navy in 1946, Father isn’t sure how to react to this creature living in his home. He left behind a rosy-cheeked five year old and is now greeted by a wary scabby-kneed stranger who has been “the man of the house” for some time now. Give this book to groups that gravitate towards gentle fiction and chuckle as they share their own memories.
Coming in August of this year is a more contemporary story of what it’s like to be a Dad in the New Millennium. Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld, a series of linked stories, is set in a recently gentrified neighborhood in New York City and explores the current lives and on-hold ambitions of a group of fathers who meet for coffee every morning after dropping off their children at their tony private schools. Readers will recognize the small but agonizing decisions and deferments these parents make for the sake of family.
One of the most famous conflicts in father-son history gets an update in a novel published a few years ago, Undiscovered Country by Lin Enger. Jesse Matson is on a hunting trip with his beloved father in the northern Minnesota woods. Separated by only a short distance, Jesse hears a gun shot and knows immediately something is wrong. His father is dead of a gunshot wound, apparently self-inflicted. Disbelieving and haunted by his father’s ghost, Jesse begins to unearth family secrets and contemplate the outcomes of pursuing revenge or forgiveness.
Consider gathering an informal discussion group around the grill while Dad turns the steaks.